SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  15.12-19.12.08, No. 247  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China, Japan, S Korea sign joint statement on partnership relations (Xinhua)
2008-12-13
Fukuoka, Japan - Leaders of China, Japan and South Korea Saturday signed a Joint Statement for Tripartite Partnership after a tripartite meeting. In the statement, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said they gathered here to help lay a solid foundation in promoting their tripartite cooperation. […] "We have reached common recognition that the tripartite cooperation will be guided under the principle of openness, transparency, mutual trust, common interest and respect for our diverse cultures, and that it will contribute to advancing wider regional cooperation frameworks such as ASEAN+3, EAS, ARF and APEC in a complementary and mutually reinforcing manner." […] Recognizing the importance of this first-ever Trilateral Summit Meeting held independently of other occasions, the leaders decided to hold the Summit in the three countries on a regular basis, with the next such meeting to be held in China next year, the statement added. ^ top ^

China, Armenia sign agreement to further inter-parliament co-op (People's Daily)
2008-12-15
Beijing - China and Armenia signed a memorandum of understanding here on Monday on exchange and cooperation between the two parliaments. "The signing of the memo marks a new era for the relationship between the two parliaments", Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo said when witnessing the signing ceremony with visiting chairman of the Armenian National Assembly Ovik Abramyan, according to a press release from the news office of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. […] China highly values its ties with Armenia, Wu told Abramyan, saying that the country is willing to promote relations with Armenia to a higher level based on the principles of mutual respect, equality and reciprocity. […] Abramyan said that Armenia would continue to adhere to the one-China policy. ^ top ^

China, U.S. reach broad consensus in strategic dialogue (People's Daily)
2008-12-16
Washington - China and the United States reached broad consensus on bilateral, regional and international issues in their sixth strategic dialogue held here Monday. The meeting, co-chaired by visiting Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, focused on how to keep the healthy and stable momentum in the development of China-U.S. relations and how to enhance the two-way cooperation and coordination on regional and global issues. […] Negroponte said that U.S.-China relations, which have become one of the most important bilateral relations in the world, need to be steadily handled and be fostered with great care by both countries. He reaffirmed that the United States will always stick to its one China policy. […]. ^ top ^

China says using "European values" as pretext to hurt interests of other countries unacceptable (People's Daily)
2008-12-16
Beijing - China on Tuesday said it doesn't accept the French leader Nicholas Sarkozy using "European values" as a pretext to defend its act that hurts fundamental interests of other countries. "We will not interfere in the values adopted by other countries. At the same time we cannot accept using these values as an excuse for act that hurts the fundamental interests of other nations and peoples," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told the regular Tuesday press briefing. "France is a great nation and I believe the French values are not based on hurting the interests of other nations and peoples," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization starts operation (Xinhua)
2008-12-16
Beijing - The Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) formally started operation here Tuesday, 16 years after the idea was put forward. The APSCO, headquartered in Beijing, now has seven member states, China, Bangladesh, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru and Thailand. Indonesia and Turkey also signed the APSCO convention, said a statement issued after the founding ceremony. The organization aims to promote the multilateral cooperation in space science and technology. Its members will work together in development and research, space technology application and training of space experts, the statement said. "China will give active support to the APSCO and work with other countries for better exchanges and cooperation in peaceful development of outer space among Asian-Pacific countries," said Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang in a congratulation letter to the APSCO. […]. ^ top ^

China urges intensified diplomatic efforts over Iranian nuclear issue (People's Daily)
2008-12-17
United Nations - Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei on Tuesday called on relevant parties to step up their diplomatic efforts toward resuming at an early date negotiations over the Iranian nuclear issue. The six nations leading international efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, held a closed-door ministerial meeting at UN Headquarters with representatives of some Arab countries in the Gulf and Middle East region. Speaking at the gathering, he expounded China's principled stand on resolving the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully through negotiations. He expressed hope that relevant parties will further step up their diplomatic efforts, bring creativity into full play and display necessary flexibility, so as to restart relevant negotiations at an early date. […]. ^ top ^

China's top legislator vows to advance co-op with Sierra Leone (Xinhua)
2008-12-17
Beijing - China expected to work with Sierra Leone to further promote cooperation between the two countries, said top legislator Wu Bangguo here Wednesday. Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress(NPC), China's top legislature, made the remarks when meeting with Abel Nathaniel Stronge, speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone. […] Wu said China and Sierra Leone should increase cooperation in such areas as resource exploitation, agriculture, and infrastructure construction, and should make active efforts to explore financing channels and manners. […] Echoing Wu's remarks, Stronge said […] Sierra Leone would provide a sound environment and ensure the safety of Chinese investment, he noted. He reiterated that Sierra Leone firmly adhered to the one-China policy. His country always maintained that Taiwan and Tibet were inalienable parts of the territory of China, Stronge noted. […]. ^ top ^

China, Angola pledge to promote bilateral practical co-op (People's Daily)
2008-12-17
Beijing - China and Angola will work jointly to promote bilateral practical cooperation, and advance bilateral friendship to a higher level, Chinese President Hu Jintao reached the consensus with his Angolan counterpart here on Wednesday. […] Hu said the two countries should maintain exchanges of views on important issues of common concern, and keep the friendly momentum of bilateral exchanges at levels of senior leaders, governmental departments, legislative bodies and ruling parties. Secondly, the two sides should expand cooperation in the fields of economy and trade, the construction of infrastructure, energy and mineral resources, and telecommunications and agriculture. […] During the meeting, Hu also appreciated Angola's adherence to the one-China policy and the support on issues related to Taiwan and Tibet, which touch the core interests of China. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese navy in Somali waters far from gunboat diplomacy: experts (SCMP)
2008-12-18
A decision by China to send navy vessels for sustained operations in remote waters would be an important step for its engagement in global affairs, mainland experts say. But it would signal a gradual change and not a fundamental departure from its conservative foreign policy. If Beijing sends warships to join an international effort to fight piracy in the waters off Somalia, it would be the first time in modern history the Chinese navy has ventured out of its territorial waters on a military expedition. Beijing has said it would consider sending frigates to the Gulf of Aden, but made it clear they would "protect and escort vessels" rather than "combat pirates" full on. Mainland experts yesterday stressed that the proposed move was a far cry from gunboat diplomacy. "The nature of this operation is akin to a peacekeeping mission at sea, and China sees itself as fulfilling an international responsibility," said Li Wei , director of the anti-terrorism research centre at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. "There has been no breakthrough in its foreign policy because the mission is still being carried out within the framework of the UN." Ni Lexiong , a military affairs professor at the Shanghai Institute of Political Science and Law, agreed the decision would be far from a shift towards a more proactive military approach to protect overseas Chinese nationals. China, in his view, was being forced to participate. "China's reluctance can be shown in how it is deciding to step in only after so many countries have sent their navies and the hijacking of several Chinese ships," Professor Ni said. He noted the growing pressure on China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to undertake such missions. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese soldiers leave for UN peace mission in Liberia (Xinhua)
2008-12-18
Beijing - A 275-member team of Chinese soldiers left for Liberia Thursday for an eight-month UN peacekeeping operation to the African country. […] China joined the peacekeeping mission in Liberia in December 2003 under a resolution of the UN Security Council. China has so far sent a total of 3,906 peacekeepers to Liberia in rotation, with each mission lasting eight months. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese FM: European Parliament human rights award to Hu Jia wrong (People's Daily)
2008-12-18
Beijing - China disagreed with the European Parliament's decision to award the 2008 Sakharov Prize for human rights to Hu Jia and will not veer from its resolve to the rule of law. "No matter what is the European Parliament's intention, China will continue the socialism with Chinese characteristics and adhere to the principle of law" said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao at a regular press conference Thursday. Liu made the remarks while commenting on the European Parliament's top human rights award to Hu Jia Wednesday. "Such a wrong act will not change China's resolution to go its own way. We have explained our position many times, and I believe that the European Parliament is very clear about China's stance," Liu said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Top legislature allows extra government expenditure (People's Daily)
2008-12-15
Beijing - China's top legislators on Monday approved the Ministry of Finance to expend "a certain amount" of fund in advance before the central budget is reviewed and approved next spring. The chairman and vice-chairpersons of National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee made the decision at their meeting here Monday, said a statement issued after the meeting presided by Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee. The statement did not reveal the exact number of the fund. "In face of serious challenges from domestic and international market, the government has carefully adjusted the macroeconomic policies," the statement said. "The new moves were proved to be correct and effective." […]. ^ top ^

China steps up efforts to rid food of illegal additives (Xinhua)
2008-12-15
Beijing - China has warned its food producers to rid their products of illegal additives in a latest move to restore trust hurt by the recent tainted milk scandal. The notice, published Monday by a joint investigation led by the Health Ministry, the State Food and Drug Administration, and another seven government departments, blacklisted 17 nonfood substances that could be added to food production. […] The blacklist is part of a four-month, nationwide investigation launched earlier this month to find illegal additives in food. The investigation will target protein-rich foods, such as processed meat, dairy products and sauces, earlier reports said. Products would be taken from supermarket shelves and tested for illegal or overused additives. […]. ^ top ^

Public concern over jobs, pay gap (China Daily)
2008-12-15
Rising unemployment and a widening income gap are the two issues of most concern to Chinese people, an annual report released yesterday by the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) said. The document, entitled The Analysis of and Forecasts for Social Development (or the Blue Book on Chinese Society), said 38.4 percent of the 7,000 families interviewed had been affected by the unstable employment situation. […] In urban areas, the unemployment rate is now 9.4 percent, twice the registered rate of 4.5 percent released by the Human Resources and Society Security Ministry, the report said. Central and western parts of the country, which have less-developed economies, are facing a more severe unemployment situation than wealthy coastal areas, while big cities have a higher unemployment rate than small towns, it said. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese primary, middle schools to include courses about ethnic harmony (People's Daily)
2008-12-16
Beijing - Chinese primary and middle schools will include regular courses about ethnic harmony, said the Ministry of Education here Monday. Students in primary and junior middle schools should have 10 to 12 school hours of ethnic harmony courses every year and those in high school should have eight to 14 school hours, according to a guideline issued at the ministry official website. […] The education aimed to enhance students' awareness of promoting ethnic harmony, safeguarding the unity of the country and fighting against secessionist activities, it wrote. […]. ^ top ^

Reporter who went missing for 2 weeks held by police (SCMP)
2008-12-16
A Beijing-based journalist who disappeared two weeks ago during an investigation in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, was being held in policy custody yesterday in Hebei on suspicion of taking bribes. Guan Jian, 49, chief reporter for the Networking News, a weekly published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was sent to Taiyuan at the end of last month to investigate a suspicious property deal. He has not been in contact with his newspaper or his family since December 1, according to Networking News chief editor Ren Pengfei. Guan's case comes just one week after the arrest of Li Min , a reporter from China Central Television seized from her home in Beijing by Taiyuan procurators who claimed she had taken bribes. Guan's disappearance had triggered widespread media attention, with editorials claiming it was a case of reporters being manhandled while investigating corruption. The Networking News published a statement on its website yesterday saying police from Zhangjiakou, in Hebei, had used Guan's mobile phone to notify his family that he was in custody. Citing a Taiyuan police source, the statement said Zhangjiakou police had notified Guan's family to take money and medicine to the Zhangjiakou Public Security Bureau's Economic Crimes Investigation Department. Asked why Guan's family and workplace were not notified about the detention, the police said it was for the sake of the investigation, the statement said. […]. ^ top ^

Police brutality up in rural areas (SCMP)
2008-12-16
Cases of police abuse have surged in Henan as millions of jobless farmers have returned home after factory closures in coastal regions. At least five suspects have "died abnormally" during police interrogations or in custody since October, a death toll that is "shockingly" high even in the notorious public-security sector, where mistreatment and torture-induced confessions are common, according to Oriental Outlook, a weekly magazine run by Xinhua. At the end of September, 436 cases of police abuse had been opened in the province, an increase of more than 15 per cent on last year, according to a statement by the provincial Department of Public Security dated October 29. The same phenomenon was occurring in Jiangxi, another labour-exporting province, according to a policeman in Shangrao. "We beat suspects all the time, but in recent months there are more criminals than ever, and some colleagues have lost their temper," he said. "Some returning young men have been exposed to the outside world, and they are less obedient." […]. ^ top ^

Better services for foreign media (China Daily)
2008-12-17
The government welcomes more journalists from abroad to cover events in the country, a top official said yesterday, vowing to implement more regulations to provide better services to them. "We will adhere to the policy of opening up and are ready to provide even better services to the Chinese and foreign media," Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, said at a reception for journalists to welcome the New Year. […] The government adopted a temporary and more relaxed regulation on the overseas media on January 1, 2007, lifting many restrictions on journalists reporting during the Beijing Olympic Games. The regulation was formalized this October, making it easier for overseas journalists to conduct interviews. Answering questions on whether the relaxed policy would be withdrawn because of late some negative reports have appeared in media, Wang said the government would never waver from the path of its opening-up policy on media regulation. "The best experience of 30 years of opening up and reform is that only through them we can better communicate with the world. That's a policy we'll never depart from," he said. Instead, "our policies will become more open". […]. ^ top ^

377,000 chickens culled in Jiangsu bird flu cases (SCMP)
2008-12-17
Agriculture authorities on the mainland have killed 377,000 chickens after an outbreak of bird flu was discovered in two areas of Jiangsu province, Hong Kong's health authorities confirmed yesterday. It was the first confirmed outbreak since June on the mainland and came after Hong Kong had confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus last week on a Yuen Long farm. The discovery triggered a 21-day shutdown of the fresh chicken trade and the quarantining of the farm for 90 days. The Ministry of Agriculture informed the Food and Health Bureau yesterday and also posted the notification on its website. "We received a notification from the Ministry of Agriculture today," a bureau spokeswoman said yesterday. "We have been notified that there were incidences of bird flu H5N1 in Haian county and the city of Dongtai and 377,000 live birds have been culled." […]. ^ top ^

Blocks resume on websites after being lifted for Games (SCMP)
2008-12-17
The mainland has resumed blocks on certain websites that had been lifted during the Olympic Games, with officials indicating for the first time how the censorship targets were chosen. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said yesterday that the mainland on the whole stuck to an open internet policy, but would still take necessary measures according to the law, as other countries did. "Undoubtedly, some websites violated Chinese laws. For example, some websites directly created `two Chinas', treating the mainland and Taiwan province as two separate regions. This is in breach of the Anti-Secession Law, and also other laws," Mr Liu said. "We hope that such websites can squarely take on China's concerns, not to do anything that violates the law, and create the conditions for the development of cordial co-operation between China and these websites and the countries where they are based." The Chinese-language websites of the BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle are some of the Chinese news websites that have been reblocked. Hong Kong-based Apple Daily and Ming Pao, and the Taiwan-based Liberty Times were also back on the blacklist. However, apart from Reporters Without Borders, most other human rights websites appear not to have been blocked. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were accessible last night, as were both the Chinese- and English-language versions of Wikipedia. And entries about the Tiananmen Square crackdown appeared unblocked as well. […]. ^ top ^

Unemployed being taught crafts to help them land jobs (SCMP)
2008-12-17
Authorities in Yunnan are trying to help rural migrant workers returning to their hometowns find work by sending them to workshops, vocational training classes and newly launched infrastructure projects. The Zhaotong city government is teaching unemployed workers how to embroider, make bamboo furniture and blow glass so that they can find jobs near their villages. "Their new jobs will earn them 50 yuan per day," said Liu Guoquan, director of Zhaotong's Rural Human Resources Development Office. Rural migrant workers in the provincial capital, Kunming, have been sent to vocational schools for work skills training and are even eligible for annual education subsidies of up to 1,500 yuan (HK$1,700) per person. The Qujing city government is fast-tracking new infrastructure projects in the countryside to create 20,000 more jobs for farmers. ^ top ^

Two terrorists in Xinjiang attack on police sentenced to death (Xinhua)
2008-12-17
Beijing - China's Supreme People's Court said Wednesday that two terrorists in the August 4 attack on police in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have been sentenced to death by a local court in the region. Seventeen people were killed and 15 injured in the attack in Kashgar, Xinjiang on August 4, four days before the Beijing Olympics, the supreme court cited the Intermediate People's Court of Kashgar, Xinjiang, as saying. The two terrorists, both locals of Kashgar, were identified as Abdurahman Azat, 33, and Kurbanjan Hemit, 28. They were convicted of intentional homicide and illegally producing guns, ammunition and explosives. The Kashgar court said the two conducted the terrorist attack to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games that began Aug. 8. […]. ^ top ^

Human trafficking ring head sentenced to death in southwest China (People's Daily)
2008-12-17
Guiyang - A man convicted of leading a human trafficking ring that sold women and children was sentenced to death Tuesday in southwest China's Guizhou Province. The 29-strong ring trafficked and sold 88 women and a 11-year-old child to provinces including Shanxi, Fujian, Zhejiang between 2003 and 2007, according to the Intermediate People's Court of Guiyang City, the provincial capital. The ring head He Kaixun, who kidnapped and sold 35 of the 89 victims, was sentenced to death in his first trial. Another two members, Luo Qin and Wang Yongqing, were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve. […] The traffickers promised to provide victims with jobs of packaging tea and sunflower seeds then led them to a fake factory where the ring members pretended to be managers and workers, according to the court. After time, the factory sent the victims to other provinces on the pretense of purchasing raw materials. Then the women were sold as "wives" to the local people, the court said. Eighty-eight of the victims were rescued and returned home after police cracked down on the ring, police said. ^ top ^

Beijing frets over threat of instability - Rising unemployment a growing concern (SCMP)
2008-12-18
More than one million jobless Chinese graduates could make coping with unemployment harder than it was during the Asian financial crisis, a training chief has said as the mainland frets over stability amid the economic downturn. A commentary in the Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily yesterday noted an arduous task ahead in maintaining social stability in the face of serious economic challenges. The thousands of factories shutting or laying off workers, especially along the export-dependent coast, may lead to unrest if the unemployed hit the streets, threatening Communist Party rule. Chen Guangqing, of the National Association of Vocational Education, said the mainland would have to find a way to absorb migrant workers who had lost their jobs but were unable to return to farming in their villages. "The employment situation may be worse than the 1990s ... This time, college graduates are not finding work, and there are so many of them," Mr Chen said. […] On top of that, at least 4 million migrant workers who have lost jobs have left the cities and are looking for part-time work in large towns and counties, rather than returning to their villages. Urban unemployment is already at 9.4 per cent, double the official figure, Cass estimates. Labour strikes, small protests and land disputes are cropping up across the land of 1.3 billion people. Disappointed students who will soon graduate add to the problem. […]. ^ top ^

Hu hails reforms, says much more still to do (SCMP)
2008-12-19
The Communist Party yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of economic reforms which have revitalised China and reshaped the world - with a pledge of further change and even greater opening up. Speaking before ranks of current and retired state leaders at the Great Hall of the People, President Hu Jintao hailed the nation's astonishing rise since the party embarked on the road of reform in 1978. He promised China's people a "prosperous and harmonious society" in the years to come. But he warned the party against self-satisfaction and said that only by implementing more reforms could it lead the country to greater prosperity and retain its legitimacy to govern. "Comparing our achievements with our long-range goals and people's expectations of a better life, we have no reason to feel content and stop moving forward," he said. "Reform and opening was a key choice for the fate of China," Mr Hu, who is also the party's general secretary, said. "The road has been correctly chosen. There is no way we will turn back." […] "We must earnestly implement the measures [which the government has announced] to further expand domestic demand, boost economic growth as well as cope properly with the international financial crisis and various risks in the internal economy to maintain stable and relatively rapid economic growth." […]. ^ top ^

Victim of internet 'lynch mob' wins compensation (SCMP)
2008-12-19
A man who was "lynched" on the internet after his wife revealed his extramarital affair before killing herself will receive 3,000 yuan (HK$3,400) from a mainland website and 5,000 yuan from one of his wife's friends, Xinhua reported yesterday. In a landmark decision by Beijing's Chaoyang District Court, Zhang Leyi, the wife's friend, and Daqi.com must compensate Wang Fei for the mental suffering, invasion of privacy and damage to his reputation that resulted when the website and the netizen said the plaintiff's wife, Jiang Yan, had committed suicide because of his affair. The lawsuit is the first of its kind on the mainland involving a "human flesh search", and the legal action raised a nationwide debate over whether the National People's Congress should tighten laws regarding online activities. The report cited the court as saying Daqi.com and Mr Zhang had defamed and violated Mr Wang's privacy by releasing information online about the extramarital affair and publishing personal details, including pictures and his employer's name. The release of the information triggered a storm of rebuke online that spilled over into real life, resulting in the plaintiff losing his job and his family being threatened. […]. ^ top ^

Mass influx of migrants triggers job fears inland (SCMP)
2008-12-19
Up to 9 million migrant workers have left coastal areas this year amid diminishing job prospects and falling wages, prompting fears that unemployment in inland provinces may increase sharply next year. Home-bound migrant workers have packed major railway stations in major cities, catching the central government by surprise because the traditional passenger peak arrives just before the Lunar New Year, which is late next month. […] Stories about farmers who returned to the countryside and became rich and famous with a spark of entrepreneurship have filled mainland media recently. But an article yesterday by a migrant worker about the difficulty and risk of doing business in the countryside hit the headlines of Mingong123.com, the biggest website dedicated to the rights and interests of migrant workers. The article said migrant workers had few options to make a living when they returned to the countryside: they could either grow fruit, raise animals, sell vegetables or go into rural tourism if they were close enough to the city. Even these limited number of business models contained high entry barriers and risks that could quickly deplete the returnees' hard- earned money, the article said. […] "The best thing returnees can do in this economic crisis is spend time with their parents, taking care of their children and reclaiming a sense of community that they have lost in the past," the article suggested. […]. ^ top ^

President hails 'one country, two systems' (SCMP)
2008-12-19
President Hu Jintao yesterday hailed the successful implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong and Macau as one of the major achievements of the past 30 years. He also described the cross-strait relationship as "taking a significant step towards peaceful reunification" over the past three decades. "We have successfully implemented the basic principle of `one country, two systems' while the important mission of the reunification of the motherland has taken a significant step," Mr Hu said. […] Mr Hu also saluted the "significant achievements of all fronts" of China's diplomatic relations. But he also reiterated the stance that China would maintain world peace. He repeated that China would strive to "have all-round development in relations with developed countries and deepen friendly relationships with its neighbours". Mr Hu also highlighted China's commitment to take a more active role in multilateral affairs and take up responsibility in global affairs. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Daily cross-strait flights to take off (SCMP)
2008-12-15
Daily direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan are due to begin this morning, a historic step forward in the improvement of cross-strait relations. Nine mainland airlines and five Taiwanese operators will run a total of 101 flights during the first week of the new arrangements, seen as a major potential boost to tourism and business relations on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The first direct shipping links since 1949 are also scheduled to start this morning, when six ships set out from three Taiwanese ports and another from the northern mainland city of Tianjin. Direct postal services also begin today, completing the "three mini-links". This comes ahead of the fourth cross-strait economic, trade and cultural forum in Shanghai next weekend. […]. ^ top ^

Four local Chinese mainland reporters to start work in Taiwan (People's Daily)
2008-12-17
Beijing - Local media from the Chinese mainland will be stationed in Taiwan since December 18, according to Li Weiyi, State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman. […] They will stay on the island for up to three months until being replaced by colleagues or other Chinese local media, according to Zhu Qing, director of the information office of the Fujian provincial government. "The move will further boost exchange across the Taiwan Straits," Zhu said Wednesday morning. […] Taiwan authorities did not allow permanent mainland correspondents until November 2000. That's when four media outlets, including the Xinhua News Agency and People's Daily, were allowed to dispatch resident reporters to the island. China News Service was allowed to send permanent correspondents in July 2004. In 2005, Taiwan authorities suspended permits for resident reporters from Xinhua and People's Daily. It did not lift that suspension until June of this year. ^ top ^

District court ordered to review Chen's release (SCMP)
2008-12-18
Taiwan's High Court yesterday ordered a district court to reconsider its decision to release former president Chen Shui-bian without bail pending his trial on corruption charges. The Taipei District Court released Chen after he spent more than a month in custody, but prosecutors appealed against the decision on Tuesday, claiming he could flee the country. The High Court endorsed the prosecutors' appeal. "The purpose of custody is aimed to prevent the former president from escaping here and colluding with the other defendants and destroying evidence," High Court spokesman Wen Yao-yuan said. But Chen yesterday vowed to fight an attempt to have him placed back in custody over corruption charges. "I will by no means run away because I deeply love this land and people here." […]. ^ top ^

Beijing may open door to WHO for Taipei - Further sign of thawing relations (SCMP)
2008-12-18
A breakthrough in Taiwan's years of efforts to join international bodies might be in the pipeline, with Beijing signalling yesterday that it could endorse the island's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) next May. Li Weiyi, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Beijing was aware of Taipei's desire to take part in the World Health Organisation, which is governed by the WHA, and would "solve the problem through mutual efforts in consulting and negotiation". Mr Li was replying to a question on whether Beijing would allow Taiwan more room to join international bodies. The response was in stark contrast to Beijing's previous stance of labelling Taiwan's attempts to join the WHA as an observer as a play for sovereignty and blocking the island's efforts to play a role in the organization. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China to focus investment on five major sectors in 2009 (Xinhua)
2008-12-14
Beijing - China will put the bulk of its investment on the development of agriculture, low-cost housing project, infrastructure, energy conservation and social welfare next year, People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, reports on Sunday. Explaining the use of the central government investment, Zhang Ping, minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the country will pump more investment into construction of key water control projects, repair of reservoirs in danger and building of more water-saving facilities at major irrigation areas. The investment will also go to housing projects for low-income families in both urban and rural areas. Local governments are required to provide funds and land for such projects. […] In energy conservation, the country will provide more financial aid for waste water disposal and garbage processing facilities, production of planes on domestic feeder lines and spread of use of indigenous nuclear and wind power equipment. In addition, more investment will be channeled to upgrading of existing school buildings, improvement of public health networks, family planning service, rural cultural center construction and other social welfare projects. ^ top ^

China expresses regrets over WTO's upholding of auto part imports ruling (Xinhua)
2008-12-16
Beijing - China on Tuesday expressed regrets over the World Trade Organization's (WTO) decision to uphold its ruling that Chinese auto parts import practices violated WTO rules. The WTO Appellate Body said Monday it largely upheld a July panel ruling that backed complaints by the United States, the European Union and Canada. But it overruled the aspect of the ruling that said China's treatment of knock-down car kits bypasses the country's WTO accession commitments. China welcomed the overruling this decision as it supported an appeal by China to correct the WTO panel's mistakes, Yao Jian, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce, said in a statement on Tuesday. But China expressed regrets over the WTO's decision to uphold other aspects of the ruling, according to the statement. […]. ^ top ^

Construction starts on nuclear power plant in south China (People's Daily)
2008-12-16
Yyangjiang - Construction began Tuesday on a nuclear power plant expected to generate 45 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. The Yangjiang nuclear power plant in Dongping Town, Yangjiang City, is being built by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group with an investment of 70 billion yuan (10.1 billion U.S. dollars). The plant will have six 1,000-megawatt units with the first unit to begin operations in 2013. All the units will be built by 2017. The plant will save 16 million tons of coal and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the most prominent greenhouse gas, by 36 million tons, according to Zhang Guobao, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission. Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday said that "the construction of nuclear power plants was of great importance to safeguard energy security, to sustain a steady economic growth, and to builda resource-saving and environment-friendly society." […]. ^ top ^

China's GDP increases 14 fold in 30 years (People's Daily)
2008-12-17
China's GDP in 2007 has increased 14 fold compared to the beginning of reform and opening-up back in 1978. […] Adjusting for inflation, China's GDP in 2007 was 5.4331 trillion yuan in real terms, an increase of 14 fold over 1978, marking an average annual growth rate of 9.8% for the 29-year period. According to data from the International Monetary Fund, China's GDP, which ranked 10th in the world in 1990 (preceded by the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Canada, Spain and Brazil), rose to 6th in 2000, then to 5th in 2005, 4th in 2006, and is expected to rise to 3rd in 2008, becoming the world's third-largest economic power. […]. ^ top ^

Central Bank governor: Interest rate likely cut within next six months (Xinhua)
2008-12-17
Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, said on December 16 that as inflation falls faster than expected, the central bank still faces pressure to trim interest rates from the end of the year to the middle of next year; interest rates cut is likely to be announced again. He reiterated that since China has implemented a managed floating exchange rate system based on the market's supply and demand, the depreciation of the Renminbi (RMB)'s exchange rate does not necessarily have a great impact on China's exports. After all, the declining of China's exports is mainly caused by shrinking demand from Europe and the US. […]. ^ top ^

China approves scheme on fuel taxation, pricing (People's Daily)
2008-12-18
Beijing - China has approved a long-awaited scheme on fuel taxation and reform of the country's refined oil pricing mechanism, the country's economic planner said Thursday. The State Council had decided to put the scheme into effect on Jan. 1, 2009, said the National Development and Reform Commission. The country will annul six types of fees on road maintenance and management, and at the same time raise the gasoline consumption tax from the current 0.2 yuan each liter to one yuan per liter and diesel consumption tax from 0.1 yuan per liter to 0.8 yuan one liter, according to the approved scheme. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Chinese, DPRK pledge to enhance ties, friendship (Xinhua)
2008-12-17
Pyongyang - Officials of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agreed Tuesday to take 2009, the Year of China-DPRK Friendship, as an opportunity to forge closer ties. Taking full advantages of the upcoming Year of Friendship, China will continue to push bilateral ties between the countries to a higher level, said Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the DPRK at a new year reception in the Chinese embassy. The DPRK wished to work together with China to strengthen DPRK-China friendship in the next year, said Choe Thae Bok, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK). […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Anod bank reopens amidst grave customer uncertainty (www.news.mn)
2008-12-16
Depositors at Anod Bank, which resumed normal operations on Monday with reassurances from the authorities that everything was all right, continue to be jittery. Their sense of insecurity has been heightened by three senior officials of the bank being detained by the Department Against Economic Crimes. They are E.Gur-Aranz, D.Enkhtur and N.Davaa. If the charges against them are proved, they will have to pay 51-500 times the minimum salary. Meanwhile, the past few days have seen mass distribution of messages through mobile phones and on the Internet asking depositors to withdraw their savings and warning that other commercial banks would also be affected soon. […]. ^ top ^

Mongolian economy, banks face negative outlook (UB Post)
2008-12-18
Mongolia's financial outlook was downgraded by Hong Kong-based Fitch Ratings on December 10, while long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) remained at a “B+”, with a revised outlook of “stable.” “The revision of Mongolia's outlook is based on a probable deterioration in sovereign creditworthiness associated with high inflation and a large current account deficit, both of which are putting pressure on the exchange rate resulting in a sizeable reduction in foreign exchange reserves,” said Vincent Ho, Associate Director at Fitch's Sovereign group. “Moreover, the change in the commodity price cycle underscores an urgent need to improve economic policy coordination and implementation, which have been beset by uncertainty and inconsistencies, particularly regarding important mining projects,” added Ho. ^ top ^

Boroo gold battles union over layoffs (UB Post)
2008-12-18
Mining company Boroo Gold's Trade Union announced on Tuesday that workers would begin a protest against the company if their demands are not met. At present, about 20 workers have been fired and over 50 workers have received notice that they will soon have to leave the company.The Trade Union stated that other workers would soon receive similar notices from company administrators because the company used up funds from its reserve deposit before it could reach a stability agreement with Mongolia's government. ^ top ^

 

Philipp Orga
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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